In the second and final Violence and Vandalism report of the 2011 – 2012 school year, the superintendent reported there were 10 incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying (HIB) in the Caldwell-West Caldwell school district since January.
Superintendent Daniel Gerardi, who was in his before retirement, broke the incidents down into three different areas. There were six incidents of violence, which included three fights and three threats (the threats were never realized); one weapons possession incident at the middle school when a student brought a small knife to class and showed it to another student; and three acts of vandalism, including two thefts of student goods and one damage to school property. There were nine incidents of this kind in the first half of the school year.
“We do owe a debt of gratitude to the anti-bullying specialists,” Gerardi said. “They went through a lot of training this year. I read each of their reports and they were very thorough. They were very thoughtful as far as the decisions rendered and no parent appealed the results.”
Gerardi added that the greatest challenge going forward will be to standardize the reporting of such incidents so as to get a more clear view of where the school district stands and how they have improved since the new regulations. He conceded that some anti-bullying specialists may interpret events differently, but with continued training, he said he believes objectivity will become more certain. Still, no parents have asked to appeal a decision, which Gerardi and the district interpret as meaning they are doing a good job identifying HIB incidents and communicating with the parties involved.
Each suspected incident of harassment, intimidation or bullying must fit into the state definitions to be considered at true HIB incident, said Gerardi. There were 27 reports made by students and teachers, and 10 were deemed to fit into the state definitions. That means approximately 30 percent of reported incidents were considered to be true HIB incidents.
When asked if he thinks the new regulations have helped prevent bullying, Gerardi said it’s too difficult to tell after just one year since the district has never quantified incidents before. Though he does say that he thinks students, parents and teachers are more aware of bullying now than ever before.
“Most of the students, after it is brought to their attention, have been apologetic of what they said or did,” said Gerardi. “This year was a growing year.”